I started City of Brass in March 2002 at Blogspot, and moved to Beliefnet in August 2008. Over a thousand posts and a million page views later, it is time to end this chapter and start a new one. However, I am not technically going anywhere – Beliefnet recently acquired Patheos, where I am going […]
Yesterday I posted some facts about a young Saudi national, a student on scholarship, who was injured in the marathon bombings but was “tackled” by another bystander for appearing “suspicious”. Today comes word that he has been cleared of all suspicion.
UPCOMING: Saudi embassy in Washington says US officials have assured them that Revere student is not a suspect in Boston Marathon bombings.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) April 16, 2013
That is good news for him, but unlike the other victims of the bombing, he was the only one who was unfairly singled out as “suspicious”, the only one who was detained at the ospital while receiving treatment, and the only one whose apartment was searched.
There’s a great piece in the New Yorker today about this that really gets to the heart of it:
A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.
Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. The bystander thought he looked suspicious.
What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?
In all of this, FOX News aggressively tried to read more into the facts than was warranted, and most of the slanderous commentary came from right wing Islamophobic pundits on FOX like Andrew Napolitano and Steve Emerson. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer also virtually flogged the Saudi national as a “jihadi” on their respective hate websites. Lesser-witted bloggers like Jim Hoft and Dan Riehl, as well as the hordes at Free Republic, mined the Saudi’s facebook page for photos and published his name. In so doing, all of them served the interests of whoever planted these bombs, by helping sow fear, to profit off the resulting anger and hate.
Thankfully, this sideshow is over and the attention of the police and FBI can be turned towards finding real suspects.